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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oath Keepers in Grant's Pass Oregon on: May 09, 2015, 03:00:56 PM

Very interesting on many levels.  Comments?
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washinton Redskin on: May 09, 2015, 02:54:42 PM
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Scandals we don't know about on: May 09, 2015, 12:10:19 PM
Kimberley A. Strassel
May 7, 2015 7:13 p.m. ET

We’re about a year out from the uproar over Department of Veterans Affairs patient waiting lists, and a few months into a new VA scandal. The new scandal is that we don’t know what other scandals there are.

Congress is trying to find out, teeing up an unprecedented battle between the Senate and an investigator who in theory exists to help the Senate: the VA’s inspector general. At issue are thousands of pages of documents that may well reveal significant new areas of department dysfunction, but which the current acting inspector general is point-blank refusing to turn over to congressional overseers. The moment ought to be inspiring a debate over President Obama’s willful obstruction of rigorous IG oversight.

This saga begins in 2011, when the Veterans Affairs’ IG was alerted by members of Congress and whistleblowers to the potential of dangerous overprescription of opiates at the VA’s Tomah facility in Wisconsin. The IG’s office commenced a plodding, three-year investigation. Today’s acting IG, Richard J. Griffin (who took over in 2013), closed that investigation in March 2014, but he did not alert Congress to the fact or make the report public. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who runs the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, didn’t even find out about the existence of the report until this January, and only to discover it was a mere 11 pages and said claims of wrongdoing could not be substantiated.

This finding was mind-boggling given an account in January from the Center for Investigative Reporting showing that the number of Tomah opiate prescriptions had quintupled over eight years, despite fewer patients. Veterans refer to the facility as “Candyland.” Mr. Johnson at a field hearing in March heard from Marvin Simcakoski, whose 35-year-old son died of an overdose there in August 2014. The hearing revealed three additional deaths and included testimony by Tomah employees who had been fired after raising concerns about—or refusing to fill—narcotics prescriptions. One psychologist committed suicide after being terminated.

Even the VA was more critical of itself than was the IG. The department released its own internal investigation of Tomah in March, finding opiate prescription rates 2.5 times the national average, higher average doses, “unsafe clinical practices” and “patient harm” as the result of overprescription.

Mr. Johnson, determined to get to the bottom of Tomah, asked the IG in February to turn over its broader investigative file. The IG’s office has to this day refused to do so, initially (and belligerently) claiming Congress has no “legitimate oversight purpose” for the file, and throwing up all kinds of excuses about statutory bars (including privacy laws) to its release. This is all nonsense, given that inspectors general exist to aid Congress in oversight and that the laws in question therefore have express exemptions for disclosing information to legislators.

Then again, nondisclosure seems to be a habit with this IG office—ranging across years and different officials. USA Today reported in March that the office has conducted 140 health investigations since 2006 that had never been made public. Under growing pressure, the IG finally released them late last week, and the newspaper ran a follow-up noting that the cases ranged from “missed diagnoses” to “failures during surgery” to “misuse of funds” to “personnel issues” to yet more facilities that may be giving “questionable amounts or combinations of narcotics.” In many cases, said the newspaper, “the department’s chief watchdog trusted the VA to correct problems on its own.” Really?

The devotion to secrecy suggests a jarring problem in the entire culture of the Veterans Affairs’ IG office, one that is a little too cozy with the object of its investigative mandate. The whole point of an IG is to blow the whistle on executive-branch failings. Most inspectors general border on fanatic in their oversight, are big into transparency, and have strong working relationships with congressional investigators. By contrast, Mr. Johnson last week was forced to take the extraordinary (and potentially unprecedented) step of issuing a subpoena for IG documents.

The episode is also raising questions about whether President Obama perhaps likes it this way. Mr. Griffin has been the supposedly temporary acting IG at Veterans for more than two years, an uncertainty that may in itself be feeding into office problems. He’s still there because Mr. Obama has failed to appoint a permanent head. In March, all 16 members of Mr. Johnson’s committee—Republicans and Democrats—wrote to Mr. Obama noting that there were 10 IG vacancies, including for such not-so-minor posts as Interior, the CIA and Export-Import Bank. They noted that there were nominations pending for only two of the 10, and requested he move quickly to fill the rest.

Then again, if you are the president, wracked by scandals and mismanagement in your administration, it might be convenient to put IG nominations on the back burner. The conduct of the VA is one of those big scandals, and the cursory evidence suggests the department could still harbor a lot of secrets.

The next time Democrats complain that a GOP Senate isn’t acting on an Obama nomination, Republicans might point out the more important nominations that they are still waiting for.

Write to
Popular on WSJ


204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Baltimore and what we know about bad neighborhoods on: May 09, 2015, 12:07:04 PM

Baltimore and What We Know About Bad Neighborhoods
Even the poverty experts thought the solution for Freddie Gray’s neighborhood was for the people to leave.

A man leads a horse-drawn cart, from which he sells produce, along Mosher Street in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, Md., in April. ENLARGE
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
May 8, 2015 6:41 p.m. ET

The brain works furiously to convince itself that ideas that bring personal comfort are great truths. Thus a noted advocate of reparations visits Baltimore after the riots to renew his call that black Americans be compensated for slavery and Jim Crow. A Baltimore professor writes in the New York Times that poverty persists in certain black neighborhoods because of the “continued profitability of racism . . . to landlords, corner store merchants and other vendors selling second-rate goods.”

A Seattle professor recites her research on discriminatory housing practices from six decades ago to explain riots that happened six days ago.

Yesterdays beget todays, beget tomorrows, so every condition in life can be traced through an ever-receding series of historical causes. The artificiality of such meditations, though, is obvious when you consider that the average male resident of Sandtown-Winchester—home of Freddie Gray whose death in police custody set off the riots—is 28 and wasn’t alive when most of this history was made.

Even in the stagnant neighborhood that Sandtown-Winchester is universally agreed to be, residential housing turnover is 16% a year; the median resident has been in place fewer than four years. Nearly 15% are arrivals from out of state or out of country, and many more (though uncounted) are undoubtedly arrivals from elsewhere in Baltimore and Maryland.

Neighborhoods like Sandtown-Winchester aren’t just places people find it hard to get out of. They are places where people from elsewhere end up when they can’t make a go of their lives.

They are places that people fall into when they don’t have incomes, credit and prospects and suffer from personal or behavioral problems.

There are white versions of Sandtown-Winchester. The literature on “rural ghettos” has grown impressively since the term was coined in the early 1990s.

As many riot-aftermath reports in the past week have noted, Sandtown-Winchester was the subject of enlightened urban renewal in the 1990s when Mayor Kurt Schmoke, Jimmy Carter’s Habitat for Humanity, and developer James Rouse poured $130 million into a community of 11,000 residents to fix homes and schools.

The neighborhood was also designated a “homeownership zone” by the feds, who spent $30 million to saddle people with arguably the last thing they needed, a mortgage that tied them down to a community without jobs and decent schools.

A study by the Abell Foundation about these disappointing results has been widely cited in the past few days, but unmentioned is the apologetic note on which it ends: “While mobility programs and community development are sometimes seen as at odds with each other . . . [m]obility programs allow poor families to leave violent neighborhoods in the short run, instead of being trapped in the low-performing schools and poor quality housing that exist while their communities await larger redevelopment investments.”

That’s right, an alternative to shoveling money in has been getting people out. Gautreaux was a public housing lawsuit in Chicago in the 1970s that randomly transplanted single mothers to suburban apartments: Half who had never worked before soon had jobs, and 52% of their kids went to college.

It’s sometimes unpopular to point out that people who behave responsibly and are willing to work generally do not end up chronically poor in America. People who live in neighborhoods where these norms are not respected or even realistically practicable, however, do experience chronic poverty. Using census data to identify those with a high proportion of teenage mothers, high-school dropouts, welfare dependents and jobless men, the Urban Institute discovered a disturbing change: Between 1970 and 1980, the number of such neighborhoods tripled to 880. Their combined population rose from 750,000 to 2.5 million.

Culprits were fingered: the loss of low-skilled manufacturing jobs, the availability of welfare. But neighborhoods themselves are clearly transmitters of poverty. The problem for residents isn’t racism: it’s where they live.

Government programs can’t save everybody in such sad places where people without money, prospects or good life habits tend to congregate. But it can help the willing to get out, by using housing vouchers, say, to transplant individuals to neighborhoods with intact families, intact schools and intact employment opportunities.

Placed-based urban renewal blames outside forces for denying resources to poor communities. It tends to ratify the persistence of concentrated victim communities whose troubles can be gratifyingly attributed to racism. This approach undoubtedly serves a lot of needs. It just doesn’t serve the needs of residents.
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan: How the Clintons get away with it. on: May 09, 2015, 09:49:39 AM
Peggy Noonan
May 7, 2015 5:48 p.m. ET

I have read the Peter Schweizer book “ Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.” It is something. Because it is heavily researched and reported and soberly analyzed, it is a highly effective takedown. Because its tone is modest—Mr. Schweizer doesn’t pretend to more than he has, or take wild interpretive leaps—it is believable.

By the end I was certain of two things. A formal investigation, from Congress or the Justice Department, is needed to determine if Hillary Clinton’s State Department functioned, at least to some degree and in some cases, as a pay-for-play operation and whether the Clinton Foundation has functioned, at least in part, as a kind of high-class philanthropic slush fund.

I wonder if any aspirant for the presidency except Hillary Clinton could survive such a book. I suspect she can because the Clintons are unique in the annals of American politics: They are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption. It’s not news anymore. They’re like . . . Bonnie and Clyde go on a spree, hold up a bunch of banks, it causes a sensation, there’s a trial, and they’re acquitted. They walk out of the courthouse, get in a car, rob a bank, get hauled in, complain they’re being picked on—“Why are you always following us?”—and again, not guilty. They rob the next bank and no one cares. “That’s just Bonnie and Clyde doing what Bonnie and Clyde do. No one else cares, why should I?”

Mr. Schweizer announces upfront that he cannot prove wrongdoing, only patterns of behavior. There is no memo that says, “To all staff: If we deal this week with any issues regarding Country A, I want you to know country A just gave my husband $750,000 for a speech, so give them what they want.” Even if Mrs. Clinton hadn’t destroyed her emails, no such memo would be found. (Though patterns, dates and dynamics might be discerned.)

Mr. Schweizer writes of “the flow of tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation . . . from foreign governments, corporations, and financiers.” It is illegal for foreign nationals to give to U.S. political campaigns, but foreign money, given as donations to the Clinton Foundation or speaking fees, comes in huge amounts: “No one has even come close in recent years to enriching themselves on the scale of the Clintons while they or a spouse continued to serve in public office.” The speaking fees Bill commands are “enormous and unprecedented,” as high as $750,000 a speech. On occasion they have been paid by nations or entities that had “matters of importance sitting on Hillary’s desk” when she was at State.

From 2001 through 2012 Bill collected $105.5 million for speeches and raised hundreds of millions for the foundation. When she was nominated, Hillary said she saw no conflict. President Obama pressed for a memorandum of understanding in which the Clintons would agree to submit speeches to State’s ethics office, disclose the names of major donors to the foundation, and seek administration approval before accepting direct contributions to the foundation from foreign governments. The Clintons accepted the agreement and violated it “almost immediately.” Revealingly, they amassed wealth primarily by operating “at the fringes of the developed world.” Their “most lucrative transactions” did not involve countries like Germany and Britain, where modern ethical rules and procedures are in force, but emerging nations, where regulations are lax.

How did it work? “Bill flew around the world making speeches and burnishing his reputation as a global humanitarian and wise man. Very often on these trips he was accompanied by ‘close friends’ or associates who happened to have business interests pending in these countries.” Introductions were made, conversations had. “Meanwhile, bureaucratic or legislative obstacles were mysteriously cleared or approvals granted within the purview of his wife, the powerful senator or secretary of state.”

Mr. Schweizer tells a story with national-security implications. Kazakhstan has rich uranium deposits, coveted by those who’d make or sell nuclear reactors or bombs. In 2006 Bill Clinton meets publicly and privately with Kazakhstan’s dictator, an unsavory character in need of respectability. Bill brings along a friend, a Canadian mining tycoon named Frank Giustra. Mr. Giustra wanted some mines. Then the deal was held up. A Kazakh official later said Sen. Clinton became involved. Mr. Giustra got what he wanted.

Soon after, he gave the Clinton Foundation $31.3 million. A year later Mr. Giustra’s company merged with a South African concern called Uranium One. Shareholders later wrote millions of dollars in checks to the Clinton Foundation. Mr. Giustra announced a commitment of $100 million to a joint venture, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative.

It doesn’t end there. When Hillary was secretary of state, Russia moved for a bigger piece of the world uranium market. The Russians wanted to acquire Uranium One, which had significant holdings in the U.S. That meant the acquisition would require federal approval. Many had reservations: Would Russian control of so much U.S. uranium be in America’s interests? The State Department was among the agencies that had to sign off. Money from interested parties rolled into the foundation. The deal was approved. The result? “Half of projected American uranium production” was “transferred to a private company controlled” by Russia, which soon owned it outright.

What would a man like Vladimir Putin think when he finds out he can work the U.S. system like this? He’d think it deeply decadent. He’d think it weak. Is that why he laughs when we lecture him on morals?

Mr. Schweizer offers a tough view of the Clinton Foundation itself. It is not a “traditional charity,” in that there is a problem “delineating where the Clinton political machines and moneymaking ventures end and where their charity begins.” The causes it promotes—preventing obesity, alleviating AIDS suffering—are worthy, and it does some good, but mostly it functions as a middleman. The foundation’s website shows the Clintons holding sick children in Africa, but unlike Doctors Without Borders and Samaritan’s Purse, the foundation does “little hands-on humanitarian work.” It employs longtime Clinton associates and aides, providing jobs “to those who served the Clintons when in power and who may serve them again.” The Better Business Bureau in 2013 said it failed to meet minimum standards of accountability and transparency. Mr. Schweizer notes that “at least four Clinton Foundation trustees have either been charged or convicted of financial crimes including bribery and fraud.”

There’s more. Mrs. Clinton has yet to address any of it.

If the book is true—if it’s half-true—it is a dirty story.

It would be good if the public, the Democratic Party and the Washington political class would register some horror, or at least dismay.

I write on the eve of the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, May 8, 1945. America had just saved the world. The leaders of the world respected us—a great people led by tough men. What do they think now? Scary to think, isn’t it?


206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gen. McChrystal on: May 09, 2015, 09:44:19 AM
second post
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Real Reason College Tuition costs so much. on: May 09, 2015, 09:07:12 AM
The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much

BOULDER, Colo. — ONCE upon a time in America, baby boomers paid for college with the money they made from their summer jobs. Then, over the course of the next few decades, public funding for higher education was slashed. These radical cuts forced universities to raise tuition year after year, which in turn forced the millennial generation to take on crushing educational debt loads, and everyone lived unhappily ever after.

This is the story college administrators like to tell when they’re asked to explain why, over the past 35 years, college tuition at public universities has nearly quadrupled, to $9,139 in 2014 dollars. It is a fairy tale in the worst sense, in that it is not merely false, but rather almost the inverse of the truth.

The conventional wisdom was reflected in a recent National Public Radio series on the cost of college. “So it’s not that colleges are spending more money to educate students,” Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute told NPR. “It’s that they have to get that money from someplace to replace their lost state funding — and that’s from tuition and fees from students and families.”

In fact, public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher.

In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.

Some of this increased spending in education has been driven by a sharp rise in the percentage of Americans who go to college. While the college-age population has not increased since the tail end of the baby boom, the percentage of the population enrolled in college has risen significantly, especially in the last 20 years. Enrollment in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs has increased by almost 50 percent since 1995. As a consequence, while state legislative appropriations for higher education have risen much faster than inflation, total state appropriations per student are somewhat lower than they were at their peak in 1990. (Appropriations per student are much higher now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s, when tuition was a small fraction of what it is today.)

As the baby boomers reached college age, state appropriations to higher education skyrocketed, increasing more than fourfold in today’s dollars, from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975. By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years. This tsunami of public money did not reduce tuition: quite the contrary.

For example, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan in 1980, my parents were paying more than double the resident tuition that undergraduates had been charged in 1960, again in inflation-adjusted terms. And of course tuition has kept rising far faster than inflation in the years since: Resident tuition at Michigan this year is, in today’s dollars, nearly four times higher than it was in 1980.

State appropriations reached a record inflation-adjusted high of $86.6 billion in 2009. They declined as a consequence of the Great Recession, but have since risen to $81 billion. And these totals do not include the enormous expansion of the federal Pell Grant program, which has grown, in today’s dollars, to $34.3 billion per year from $10.3 billion in 2000.

It is disingenuous to call a large increase in public spending a “cut,” as some university administrators do, because a huge programmatic expansion features somewhat lower per capita subsidies. Suppose that since 1990 the government had doubled the number of military bases, while spending slightly less per base. A claim that funding for military bases was down, even though in fact such funding had nearly doubled, would properly be met with derision.

Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

The rapid increase in college enrollment can be defended by intellectually respectable arguments. Even the explosion in administrative personnel is, at least in theory, defensible. On the other hand, there are no valid arguments to support the recent trend toward seven-figure salaries for high-ranking university administrators, unless one considers evidence-free assertions about “the market” to be intellectually rigorous.

What cannot be defended, however, is the claim that tuition has risen because public funding for higher education has been cut. Despite its ubiquity, this claim flies directly in the face of the facts.
208  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: May 08, 2015, 10:09:20 PM
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / History of the Law on War on Land on: May 08, 2015, 09:56:40 PM
second post
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams to his wife 1800 on: May 08, 2015, 12:20:42 PM
"I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessing on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof!" —John Adams, letter to his wife Abigail, 1800
211  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Federalize the Police?!? on: May 08, 2015, 12:09:46 PM
Who's Up for Federalizing Police?
By Allyne Caan

If you like the federal government picking your insurance plan, targeting your free speech via the IRS, feeling you up at the airport and planning your kids’ lunch menu, you’ll love its taking over your local police department.

The "Reverend" Al Sharpton recently called for such a takeover, saying in reference to the Baltimore riots, “We need the Justice Department to step in and take over policing in this country. In the 20th century, they had to fight states’ rights to get the right to vote. We’re going to have to fight states’ rights in terms of closing down police cases. Police must be held accountable. I don’t think all police are bad; I don’t even think most are bad. But those that are need to be held accountable.”
And, naturally, Sharpton thinks the best way to “hold accountable” the small minority of police who abuse power is to federalize all police. The federal government has already been arming local PDs with decommissioned military equipment, so why not finish the job?

Sharpton’s idea, as frightening as it is, is hardly original. Back in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama, who was spouting out campaign promises faster than Hillary Clinton can wipe her hard drive, floated an idea for a national civilian police force, saying, “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded."
He eventually seemed to drop the idea, but maybe he just had to wait for a more opportune crisis.

And what better way to push a federal police force than to capitalize on Baltimore, Ferguson and New York as justification for Big Brother to step in and save the day? Indeed, less than a month after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the Justice Department announced an investigation of the Ferguson PD. In December, the DOJ announced an investigation into the death of Eric Garner in New York. And Wednesday, Baltimore Democrat Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation into her city’s police department following the death of Freddie Gray — a request the Department is “actively considering” and no doubt will jump on.

The guise may be accountability, but the solution is laughable. As University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds points out, federal agencies hardly have a stellar record when it comes to law enforcement. There’s the Secret Service engaging in extracurricular entertainment of the whorish sort; the Drug Enforcement Agency allegedly attending sex parties — with prostitutes funded by drug cartels, no less; and the Capitol Police leaving loaded firearms unattended, including one in a bathroom found by a child. And remember that little scandal called Fast and Furious? Imagine if your local police force smuggled firearms to known drug rings in town. Yeah, that would go over well.

Yet this is just the kind of oversight and "accountability" that federalizing police would bring. Oh, and there's the minor detail that it’s unconstitutional. The Tenth Amendment clearly states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” A federal police force is not one of the delegated powers. And we doubt this was an oversight on the part of our Founders. Of course, given Obama's view of the Constitution as little more than an inconvenient pamphlet, this would hardly deter him.

Be prepared for the Left to issue more calls for a police takeover, using anything from isolated incidents to larger terror threats to justify it. But unless America wants its police force attaining the same stellar reputation for accountability and justice as the IRS, the NSA and the VA, we’d better be prepared to reject any attempts at a federal takeover.
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: May 08, 2015, 11:35:10 AM
These powerful words from our "brother in arms" GM are worthy of discussion here:

I have raised my right hand multiple times and sworn to protect and defend the Constitution. That constitution means nothing to those in power now. I believed in the inherent wisdom and goodness of the American people. I seriously question that now.

The rule of law and the constitution lie in tatters and the public seems to be more interested in Bruce Jenner's gender crisis. And what better metaphor for America than the Bruce Jenner of my childhood on a Wheaties box as an American Olympic hero and the Bruce Jenner of today preparing to have his smeckle surgically turned into a vajayjay. America today is just as unimaginable and unrecognizable.

We have alleged americans cheering for the jihadists targeting a brave American standing for core American freedoms. Our president does nothing to protect her from the enemies he has allowed to fester in our midst.

This is becoming a country not worth bleeding for, much less dying for. I am not renouncing my country, it is renouncing me and everything I have spent my adult life defending.  If we continue down this path, then I am done. I went into law enforcement because I saw it as a sacred calling. I used to encourage talented people to consider it as a career or volunteer opportunity. I no longer do so.

So, what's on TV?
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / House Committee now reading this forum? on: May 08, 2015, 11:33:31 AM
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iranian General says Iran could beat US in war in Middle East on: May 08, 2015, 11:32:03 AM
215  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: May 08, 2015, 11:27:53 AM
This sort of thing does not build trust , , , tongue cry
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul predicts financial apocalypse on: May 08, 2015, 10:26:52 AM
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: May 08, 2015, 10:24:25 AM
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: May 08, 2015, 12:48:45 AM
I'd be lying if I didn't say there aren't days when I feel the very same thing.

On the other hand, we can fight to preserve our Republic.  Defeating Hillary, perhaps by Rubio, would be a good start.  Continuing the good fight on this forum (check out the reads/posts ratios!) has its merits too.
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lefties win big in Alberta on: May 06, 2015, 08:24:24 PM
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Heroic cop in Garland TX on: May 06, 2015, 02:11:37 PM
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al Jazeera on: May 06, 2015, 01:58:18 PM
222  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Heroic cop of Garland TX on: May 06, 2015, 01:51:48 PM
While this could fit within the existing Polic Citizen interactions thread, I think it deserves its own thread:

What a stud!  What accuracy while moving!  This is a warrior!

223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: AIDs outbreak in Indiana on: May 06, 2015, 12:13:01 PM
Rural Indiana Struggles to Contend With H.I.V. Outbreak

Sherry McNeely, right, a nurse, testing for H.I.V. on Monday in a mobile testing unit in Austin, Ind. Credit Aaron P. Bernstein for The New York Times

AUSTIN, Ind. — She became addicted to painkillers over a decade ago, when a car wreck left her with a broken back and doctors prescribed OxyContin during her recovery. Then came a new prescription opiate, Opana, easily obtained on the street and more potent when crushed, dissolved in water and injected. She did just that, many times a day, sometimes sharing needles with other addicts.

Last month, the thin, 45-year-old woman learned the unforgiving consequences. She tested positive for H.I.V., one of nearly 150 cases in this socially conservative, largely rural region just north of the Kentucky border. Now a life long hobbled by addiction is, like so many others here, consumed by fear.

She is afraid to start antiretroviral therapy because she does not want to be spotted entering the clinic on Main Street, she says, and afraid to learn her prognosis after hearing a rumor — false, it turns out — that someone else with the virus was given six months to live. Other drug users have refused to be tested at all.

“I thought it was just a homosexual disease,” the woman said one recent evening, twisting a tissue in her manicured hands as tears filled her eyes. She asked that her name not be published out of concerns about being stigmatized. “I didn’t ever think it would be in my small hometown.”

The crisis would test even a large metropolis; Austin, population 4,200, is overwhelmed despite help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state and nonprofit groups like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. H.I.V. had been all but unknown here, and misinformation is rife. Attempts to halt the outbreak have been hindered by strong but misguided local beliefs about how to address it, according to people involved in the response.

Gov. Mike Pence reluctantly authorized a needle exchange program last month, but local officials are not running it according to best practices, outside experts say. Austin residents still must wait for addiction treatment, even though they have been given priority. And getting those who are H.I.V.-positive on medication, and making sure they adhere to the protocol, has been difficult.

Officials here say the need for education is urgent and deep; even local health workers are learning as they go. Brittany Combs, the public health nurse for Scott County, said she was stunned to discover from talking to addicts that many were using the same needle up to 300 times, until it broke off in their arms. Some were in the habit of using nail polish to mark syringes as their own, but with needles scarce and houses full of people frequently shooting up together, efforts to avoid sharing often failed.

Ms. Combs also learned that many addicts were uncomfortable visiting a needle distribution center that opened April 4 on the outskirts of town. So she started taking needles directly to users in their neighborhoods.

At the same time, H.I.V. specialists from Indianapolis — who have evaluated about 50 people with the virus here so far and started about 20 of them on antiretroviral drugs — are fighting a barrage of misinformation about the virus in Scott County, where almost all residents are white, few go to college and one in five live in poverty, according to the census.

“There are still a significant proportion of people in Austin who have biases about H.I.V. and are contributing to the stigma and subsequent fear,” said Dr. Diane Janowicz, an infectious disease specialist at Indiana University, who is treating H.I.V. patients here. “I have to reassure them: If your grandkid wants a sip of your drink, you can share it. It’s O.K. to eat at the same table. You can use the same bathroom.”

Many whose H.I.V. has been newly diagnosed here have strikingly high amounts of it in their blood, Dr. Janowicz said, and in one patient the H.I.V. has progressed to AIDS. Nonetheless, she said, “if they take their medicine for H.I.V., this is a chronic disease, not something they have to die from.”

Another complication is that the needle exchange has faced strong local resistance. Mr. Pence, a Republican, generally opposes such programs, saying they perpetuate drug use. Many residents here feel the same.

“If you would have asked me last year if I was for a needle exchange program, I would have said you’re nuts,” Ms. Combs said. “I thought, just like a lot of people do, that it’s enabling — that you’re just giving needles out and assisting them in their drug habit. But then I did the research on it, and there’s 28 years of research to prove that it actually works.”

But researchers say Scott County’s hastily created exchange has several features that could sharply curb its effectiveness. To get clean needles, drug users have to register, using their birth date and a few letters from their name to create an identification number that goes on a laminated card. The police are arresting anyone found with needles but no card, saying it will prod more people to participate.

Shortly after the needle exchange began, sheriff’s deputies visited a house in Austin and found a man who had joined the program and a woman who had not. They did not arrest the man, Sheriff Dan McClain said, although they confiscated a number of clean needles he had received from a volunteer group that was not part of the official program. But they did arrest the woman, who had “a freshly used needle lying next to her” in a bed spattered with blood, Sheriff McClain said.

“If they’ve got one needle and they’re not in the program, they’re going to jail,” Sheriff McClain said.

Dr. Don Des Jarlais, the director of research for the chemical dependency institute at Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital in New York, said the most successful needle exchange programs let participants pass out syringes to peers who remain in the shadows instead of requiring everyone to sign up. Arresting drug users who are not officially enrolled in the program “makes it hard to build trust,” Dr. Des Jarlais said, adding, “You’re not going to be able to get enough syringes out to really stop the epidemic if you have those types of restrictions.”

Local supporters of the needle exchange say a limited program is better than none, and believe that improvements will come with time. Last week, the state legislature sent a bill to Mr. Pence that would allow communities to create needle exchange programs for up to a year if they are experiencing an epidemic of H.I.V. or hepatitis C because of intravenous drug use. Mr. Pence said he would sign the measure, noting in a statement that it would allow only “limited and accountable” needle exchange programs, and only “where public health emergencies warrant such action.”

For now, the program here is giving out a maximum of 140 clean needles per user per week to whoever goes to the outreach center or accepts them from the roaming minivan. Ms. Combs said some people told her they injected as often as 15 times a day, and the exchange is erring on the side of providing slightly more than people need. She has passed out needles at a house where the owner, an older woman known as Momma, sits on the porch while a steady stream of visitors comes to shoot up inside. She has knocked on the door of a trailer where, she said, “multiple family members live and the daughters all prostitute themselves out and everyone is doing drugs.” One recent afternoon, on a street fragrant with lilacs, a young woman on a bicycle declined Ms. Combs’s offer of clean needles, saying she already had some — and H.I.V.

“I know I need the medicine to slow it down,” she murmured.

At a run-down house with a wheelchair on the porch, Tiffany Prater, 27, walked out to greet the van, saying, “The needles ain’t lasting me long enough.” She beckoned two men out of the house to get some, too.

“This little boy right here needs a card,” she told Ms. Combs, gesturing toward an expressionless friend whose eyes kept slipping shut. “You got some extra Neosporin and stuff? Because look how bad his arms is.”

The van moved on, stopping as someone yelled from a white house with a broad lawn. A woman in a pink tank top emerged, saying a neighbor had taken some of her clean needles and her daughter’s, too.

The daughter could not come out of the house — she had just injected and “can’t get up from the kitchen table,” the mother said. Ms. Combs gave the woman needles for her and her daughter.

“Spread the word that this white vehicle is a friendly mobile,” she said.

As of Tuesday, the exchange had distributed 9,491 needles to 223 people, including many repeat customers. About 8,300 needles had been returned to the exchange, but not all of them came from the exchange program.

Some participants say they are happy to have clean needles but would be happier in treatment. While some intravenous drug users from Austin have recently gone into treatment at a residential center in Jeffersonville, about 30 miles away, others are still waiting for a bed.

A 23-year-old user with H.I.V. said he had gone to the community outreach center to get clean needles and seek addiction treatment, but was put on a waiting list. Two weeks later, he is still waiting.

Opana remains easy to get, he added, a quarter of a pill selling for $40 — enough of a dose to ease his withdrawal symptoms and enable him to get out of bed.

One unexpected benefit of the H.I.V. outbreak, according to the woman who tested positive and fears starting treatment, is that the men who used to stream into town daily, seeking young female addicts who would prostitute themselves in exchange for drug money, have all but disappeared.

“It took H.I.V. to change our town,” she said. “Those of us who are affected are devastated, but I’m glad H.I.V. is here.”
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Soccer moms revolt against Common Core on: May 06, 2015, 11:01:11 AM
Jason L. Riley
May 5, 2015 7:19 p.m. ET

The term “soccer mom”—political shorthand for the upscale suburban women President Clinton courted so successfully in the 1990s—may have fallen out of use with the Beltway set in more recent years, but this swing voting bloc is still around. Just ask Arne Duncan.

As President Obama’s education secretary and the administration’s head cheerleader for the new Common Core academic standards, Mr. Duncan has spent four years trying to convince the country that the biggest problem with K-12 schooling is insufficient federal intervention. His problem is that the more parents learn about this federal effort to impose uniform math and reading standards across state lines, the less they like the idea. And women, who are more likely than men to rank education as “very important” in political surveys, seem to harbor a special disdain for Common Core.

A national poll released by Fairleigh Dickinson University earlier this year put approval for the new standards at 17%, against 40% who disapproved and another 42% who were undecided. A breakdown by gender had Common Core support at 22% for men and only 12% for women.

Wealthier parents tend to be the most skeptical, and they are not satisfied with merely sounding off to pollsters. This year hundreds of thousands of students across the country are boycotting Common Core-aligned state exams, and this so-called opt-out movement has been growing. Preliminary estimates are that between 150,000 and 200,000 students skipped New York state’s mandatory English exams last month, up from the 49,000 in 2014.

The Obama administration is aware of these developments, though you might question how it has chosen to respond to critics. “It’s fascinating to me,” said Mr. Duncan in 2013, “that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.”

More recently, the administration has pivoted from insulting parents to threatening them. Mr. Duncan told an education conference in April that if the boycott numbers continue to rise, “then we have an obligation to step in.”

His spokesman later informed reporters that the administration is considering whether to withhold federal funding for districts with test-participation rates below 95%. Given that there is no political will or effective mechanism for punishing test opponents without turning them into martyrs, this is an idle threat. The districts doing most of the boycotting are affluent and not dependent on federal money, which in any case parents could easily replace out of pocket.

Nor is this backlash as “fascinating” as Mr. Duncan claims. For the purposes of opposing accountability measures in No Child Left Behind, the 2001 federal education law signed by George W. Bush, the Obama administration told these white suburban moms that their schools were just fine. For the purposes of imposing Common Core, Mr. Duncan is telling them the opposite.

No Child Left Behind had its shortcomings, but Congress went to great lengths to preserve local control. The law’s objective was to produce information—disaggregated data on the racial, ethnic and income groups that were struggling academically. Unlike the Common Core standards and tests, No Child Left Behind didn’t tell schools what to do and what not to do. States were still in charge of determining what to teach and how to teach it.

“The one thing upper-middle-class parents want and have grown accustomed to having is the ability to control their kids’ education,” Jay Greene, an education reform scholar who teaches at the University of Arkansas, told me by phone this week. “They will purchase private school if they have to. They will move to another neighborhood if they must. And they will boycott testing if they feel their control is being interfered with.”

Forty-five states initially signed on to Common Core in return for more federal education funding, but the tide is turning and opponents—including teachers unions who don’t want student test scores, or any other objective measures, used to evaluate instructors—have the momentum. California and Utah already allow parents to opt out of assessments, and CBS News reported in March that 19 other states “have introduced legislation to either halt or replace Common Core.”

This issue won’t go away when students head home for summer vacation next month. The presidential candidates will have to declare themselves. Labor will pressure Hillary Clinton to at least hedge any support for testing, and it is increasingly difficult to imagine a Republican nominee who hasn’t distanced himself from Common Core.

Prof. Greene thinks the administration’s education agenda has crossed the wrong voters. “They’re going to lose,” he said, citing White House hubris and overreach. “You can’t beat organized upper-middle-class people. They will fight back and you will lose.”

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: May 06, 2015, 10:56:13 AM
Economic populism is making a comeback on the right, and not always in a good way. Mike Huckabee wants to ride this wave and his standing with social conservatives to the GOP presidential nomination.

The ordained Baptist minister and former Arkansas Governor declared his candidacy on Tuesday in his native Hope, also the Bethlehem of Bill Clinton. Mr. Huckabee’s campaign is in particular targeting evangelicals who helped him pull an upset in Iowa eight years ago. His folksy charm has since won him many fans on Fox News, which shouldn’t be underestimated.

Mr. Huckabee’s challenge will be overcoming his record of support for larger government after the record government expansions of the Obama years. Between 1997 and 2005 Arkansas’s per capita state and local tax burden rose by nearly 50%. In 2008 the Club for Growth lambasted his support as Governor for higher taxes on income, sales, gas, tobacco, the Internet and even nursing beds.

He also hurt himself by endorsing energy cap and trade—which he has since renounced—as well as the FAIR tax that would replace the income and payroll taxes with a 30% national sales tax. This has appeal on first pitch but voters soon figure out that they’d get the sales tax and never lose the income tax. Mr. Huckabee’s attacks in 2008 on income inequality, income-tax rate cuts, and George W. Bush’s foreign policy gave him a fillip in the media but turned off many mainstream primary voters.

We believe in political redemption, but Mr. Huckabee is already back at the same old stand. He is accusing Republicans who support entitlement reform of “robbing” seniors and says that as President he wouldn’t sign Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform. He recently lambasted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for proposing to gradually raise the Social Security retirement age and means-test benefits.

Aside from repealing ObamaCare, Mr. Huckabee has no answer of his own on entitlements, though they are steadily consuming more of the federal budget and national GDP. Entitlements on autopilot inevitably mean tax increases. Meanwhile, he’s stalwart for ethanol and farm subsidies.

Mr. Huckabee hopes another good showing in Iowa will propel him through South Carolina and into the “SEC primary” in early March with Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. But this time he’ll have stronger Iowa competition from the likes of Ted Cruz,Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. It’s hard to see the logic of a Huckabee candidacy in this era of conservative reform, but if anyone can sell bigger government to Republicans, it’s probably him.
Popular on WSJ

226  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Real Life Double Blade Duel in the Phillipines on: May 06, 2015, 09:24:42 AM

Excellent contribution War Dog.
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Rick Perry on: May 05, 2015, 11:44:10 PM
Rick Perry
May 5, 2015 7:20 p.m. ET

During the 14 years I served as governor of Texas, I made job growth the highest priority of my administration. And the results are clear: Texas created 1.5 million jobs from December 2007 to December 2014. Without that employment surge in Texas, the nation as a whole would have been 400,000 jobs under water.

Not only is Texas the nation’s economic engine, it is also a major hub for exports. During my third year in office, Texas became the nation’s leading exporter, a title it has retained. Today, Texas products, in areas such as energy, technology and manufacturing, account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. exports.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has played a role in making this happen. Since 2007 more than 1,200 Texas companies have obtained help from Ex-Im in financing more than $24 billion in exports.

As governor, I feared that because global competitors use institutions similar to the Ex-Im Bank to help their companies export goods to us, shutting down the Ex-Im Bank would mean unilaterally disarming in a fight that Europe and China intend to win. That is why, in June 2014, I wrote a letter to Congress urging the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Next month, the bank comes up for reauthorization again—but this time I can’t get on board. I have been deeply disturbed by recent revelations of corruption and bribery at the institution. On April 13 the Justice Department announced that a former Ex-Im loan officer, Johnny Gutierrez, had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes on 19 separate occasions from people with interests before the bank. Michael McCarthy, Ex-Im’s acting inspector general, has told Congress that there are 31 corruption and fraud investigations into the bank still pending.

Those at Ex-Im who have abused the public trust must be pursued to the full extent of the law. But it may be that the best way to mend Ex-Im is to end it. Here’s why.

One of the biggest challenges America faces is sluggish economic growth. This is complicated by an absurdly complex tax code, which is riddled with lobbyist-driven loopholes and saddled with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. The ever-expanding federal debt—fueled by ever-rising federal spending—is another major challenge, particularly because we can’t grow our way out of this $18 trillion hole. A third challenge is an explosion of new regulations, thanks to ObamaCare, the Dodd-Frank law and President Obama’s out-of-control executive branch.

If we want U.S. companies to win in the global marketplace, we have to do three things. First, we need to clean up the tax code, ensuring that corporate taxes are fair, simple and competitive. Today, the top federal corporate tax rate is 35%, one of the highest in the developed world. And that is before you pile on state and local taxes.

Second, we have to begin to retire the federal debt by reducing spending instead of increasing taxes. There is considerable evidence that as the size of a nation’s public debt approaches its annual economic output, growth slows to a crawl. In 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 74%—and climbing.

Third, we have to make the regulatory system stable and predictable so that it’s easier for U.S. businesses to get off the ground. The Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that, over the eight years President Obama has been in office, more than 600,000 pages have been added to the Federal Register, Washington’s compilation of regulatory notices. From 2008 to 2011, more American businesses closed their doors than opened them, ending a record of business dynamism that had been in progress for at least 30 years, according to a Brookings Institution study released last year.

The problem is this: We won’t have the moral credibility to reduce corporate taxes if we continue to subsidize corporate exports for corporations that already enjoy low effective tax rates, like General Electric and Boeing. We won’t have the moral credibility to reform government programs that benefit future retirees if we don’t first reform government programs that benefit big businesses like Caterpillar. We won’t be able to give businesses more regulatory latitude if we continue to operate a government bank with an emerging record of corporate corruption.

And that is why the time has come to end the Export-Import Bank. We can’t let Ex-Im get in the way of reforms that would expand opportunity for all Americans.

We could pair Ex-Im’s retirement with corporate tax reform—a more effective way to improve the competitiveness of U.S. companies. We should work with our partners in the World Trade Organization to roll back the use of export-import banks by other countries, so that American exporters don’t face an unfair playing field. The end result would be freer trade and higher growth.

In Texas we have long maintained a stable and predictable regulatory climate. We balanced our budget for 14 straight years. And we have worked hard to keep the tax burden on families and employers as low as possible. Those policies have resulted in a sustained economic boom for the state.

If we want to bring Texas’ prosperity to the nation as a whole, we’ll have to do a lot more than terminate Ex-Im. But that’s where we should begin.

Mr. Perry was governor of Texas from 2001 to 2014.
228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary and Citizens United on: May 05, 2015, 11:21:04 PM

Donald F. McGahn II
May 5, 2015 7:22 p.m. ET

Progressivism’s ever-tightening grip on the Democratic Party is on full display in Hillary Clinton’s presidential platform. Starting with her kickoff speech in Iowa, and in subsequent venues across the country, she spoke of her campaign’s “four fights,” one of which is a constitutional amendment on campaign finance. This marks Mrs. Clinton as an adherent to one of the newest and most fervently held tenets of modern progressive teaching: Citizens United v. FEC is an evil that must be destroyed at any cost.

Yet it’s worth dwelling on that cost. Recent history demonstrates that the anti-Citizens United campaign quickly devolves into an assault on the First Amendment and a free and fair electoral system.

In a sense, it’s fitting that Mrs. Clinton supports efforts to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that dealt with the right to buy television ads for a movie that criticized her. The constitutional amendment she wants could return American elections to where they were in 2008, when her opponents and critics were often muzzled in the public square.

Despite the hyperbole surrounding Citizens United, the justices were actually debating a simple issue: Whether a movie critical of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton could be aired on pay-per-view television. Under the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, such activity was banned within 30 days of a primary election. The justices struck down this prohibition, ruling that “the First Amendment protects political speech.” Chief Justice John Roberts was even more blunt, arguing that such bans subvert “the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy.”

There was a time when most Americans agreed with this logic. The American Founding was partially triggered by the Stamp Act, which squelched speech by mandating that publications possess a stamp purchased from the British government. Following the Revolution and the ratification of the Constitution, the first Congress wisely passed the First Amendment to prevent politicians from banning speech that criticizes officeholders. Throughout American history, this constitutional guarantee of free speech has been the bulwark of the country’s experiment in self-government.

Yet this consensus disappeared following Citizens United. The Democratic Party’s leadership, fearing the electoral losses that ultimately came to pass, called for a crusade to undo the Supreme Court’s decision. Their holy war found its fullest expression in the demand for a constitutional amendment that would, in essence, repeal the First Amendment.

Hillary Clinton is now on board this campaign, based on her recent pledge to “fix” our political system “even if that takes a constitutional amendment.” For a hint of what her proposed amendment might look like, consider the measure then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) brought to the Senate floor last year. The so-called Udall Amendment—introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D., N.M.), co-sponsored by 48 other Democratic senators, and ultimately supported by 54 senators, but no Republicans—was designed to reverse Citizens United.

The amendment—which was filibustered in the Senate in September—promises to “advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all” and “protect the integrity of the legislative electoral process.” In reality, it would give politicians unlimited authority to stifle the speech of their political opponents.

As with most campaign-finance reform measures, the Udall Amendment’s goal is to get money out of politics. It seeks to accomplish this by allowing Congress to regulate and limit how “candidates and others” raise and spend money.

Yet free speech is toothless without money—especially when it concerns elections and public policy. It is necessary to print campaign mailers, organize phone banks, air television and radio ads, build websites and pay for a thousand other things.

By giving legislators authority to regulate the money that finances this speech, politicians would only succeed in making it harder for Americans to make their voices heard in the political process. The American Civil Liberties Union argued in a 2014 letter to Congress that the Udall Amendment would “lead directly to government censorship of political speech.” The ACLU also warned that it would “fundamentally ‘break’ the constitution and endanger civil rights and civil liberties for generations.”

It isn’t hard to see how. The Obama administration admitted in 2010 that its position in Citizens United would empower the government to ban books, ads and anything else that contains a political message that regulators and politicians don’t like. The only limit the Udall Amendment placed on Congress is that any campaign-finance law must be “reasonable.” This led Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) to remark in a 2014 Senate subcommittee hearing on the amendment that “I am not content to have . . . free speech rights protected by the reasonableness of members of Congress, Republicans or Democrats.”

No one, left or right, should be comfortable with giving politicians such power. When elected officials are able to handicap and silence their electoral opponents, they will rarely refrain from doing so. This is true whether it’s the man or woman in the White House, representatives and senators in Congress, state legislators and governors, or even the members of the local PTA. A constitutional amendment on campaign finance can’t change human nature.

Before she goes down in history as the first presidential candidate to make gutting the First Amendment a central part of her platform, Mrs. Clinton might want to remember the liberal heroes of yesteryear who defended free speech. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was right when he declared in 1919 that “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

Justice Louis Brandeis was also right in 1927 when he called for “more speech, not enforced silence” in America’s political debates. And so was Sen. Ted Kennedy, who 80 years later declared that “we have never amended the Bill of Rights, and now is not the time to start.”

It’s a shame that the Democratic Party’s de facto presidential candidate has abandoned this wisdom.

Mr. McGahn is a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: May 05, 2015, 11:19:45 PM
Good on you for being there!!!  cool cool cool
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pamela Geller tears it up in CNN interview on: May 05, 2015, 10:38:33 PM
Pretty damn impressive if you ask me , , ,
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Carly Fiorina on: May 05, 2015, 10:37:02 PM
And that experience includes a goodly amount of interface with business between the US and China.

PS:  I had forgotten about Lucent.
Megan Kelly interviews Carly.
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Why the left won't call rioters thugs on: May 05, 2015, 10:34:04 PM
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pravda on the Hudson: Hillary gaining favor on: May 05, 2015, 06:01:09 PM
Hillary Rodham Clinton Gaining Favor, Times/CBS Poll Says
Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to have initially weathered a barrage of news about her use of a private email account when she was secretary of state and the practices of her family’s foundation, an indication that she is starting her second presidential bid with an unusual durability among Democratic voters.
Americans now view Mrs. Clinton more favorably and as a stronger leader than they did earlier in the year, despite weeks of scrutiny about her ethics, a New York Times/CBS News poll has found. And nearly nine in 10 Democrats say the nation is ready to elect a female president.

234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: May 05, 2015, 01:22:32 PM
A mere three U.S. Presidents—Taylor, Grant and Eisenhower—have been elected without previously holding political office. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina now aspire to be the fourth, and they promise to enrich the Republican field even if they’re long shots.

The 63-year-old Mr. Carson, who declared his candidacy Monday in his native Detroit, rose from poverty to become one of the world’s pre-eminent neurosurgeons. At age 33 he was the youngest doctor appointed director of the Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgery unit and performed path-breaking operations such as the first separation of twins conjoined at the head.
Opinion Journal Video
Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina joining the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Photo credit: Getty Images.

In 1994 he and his wife started a college scholarship fund that has distributed $700,000 in awards to mostly poor middle- and high-school students. The fund is purely philanthropic—no donations and speaking fees with uranium deals—and predates Mr. Carson’s political activities.

Mr. Carson has long been admired for his Horatio Alger story, and his autobiography “Gifted Hands” has inspired many young people. In 2006 the NAACP accorded him the same honor it has bestowed on Rosa Parks,Oprah Winfrey and Congressman John Lewis. But now that Mr. Carson is running for President as a Republican, and criticizing President Obama, the Washington Post greeted his entry into the race with an odd piece saying he’s diminishing his legacy.

This is a familiar liberal attempt to force the races into partisan boxes, as if no black American should criticize the first black President. This is unfair to Mr. Carson and bad for the country. Mr. Carson’s appeals to individual liberty and personal responsibility echo civil-rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass, among others. Race relations would be far healthier if voters divided more by personal philosophy than by racial identity. Civil-rights leaders should want black Republicans to aspire to the highest office.

Mr. Carson’s views such as his support for a flat tax and health-savings accounts are also in the mainstream of the GOP. His weakness is that he’s new to the political game, which makes him a fresh voice but also has caused him to stumble in recent months with some public comments—for instance, comparing the IRS bias against conservative groups to Nazi Germany.

Ms. Fiorina, age 60, also has an impressive resumé and has been a political student since she was a child in a politically active family. She rose from secretary of a real-estate firm to the top of Hewlett-Packard, no small accomplishment. While she was ousted in a boardroom brawl, her strategy that involved acquiring PC-manufacturer Compaq was largely vindicated by later events.

Although Ms. Fiorina lost a California Senate race to Barbara Boxer in 2010, she outperformed Meg Whitman on the Republican ticket despite spending a fraction as much. She has also impressed on the stump this year with her grasp of the issues, including health-care reform, the Export-Import Bank, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Russian revanchism.

Both candidates can make a contribution to the GOP debate, and they’ll have a chance to test their theory that the party wants a political outsider rather than career politicians. That’s a harder sell after Mr. Obama’s failures from inexperience, but then they aren’t burdened with his bad ideas.
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This bears watching , , , and needs confirmation on: May 05, 2015, 01:16:15 PM
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Baltimore is not about race on: May 05, 2015, 01:02:25 PM
Sowell invariably raises the level of whatever conversation he joins!

Baltimore Is Not About Race
Government-induced dependency is the problem—and it’s one with a long history.
By William McGurn
May 4, 2015 7:18 p.m. ET

For those who see the rioting in Baltimore as primarily about race, two broad reactions dominate.

One group sees rampaging young men fouling their own neighborhoods and concludes nothing can be done because the social pathologies are so overwhelming. In some cities, this view manifests itself in the unspoken but cynical policing that effectively cedes whole neighborhoods to the thugs.

The other group tut-tuts about root causes. Take your pick: inequality, poverty, injustice. Or, as President Obama intimated in an ugly aside on the rioting, a Republican Congress that will never agree to the “massive investments” (in other words, billions more in federal spending) required “if we are serious about solving this problem.”

There is another view. In this view, the disaster of inner cities isn’t primarily about race at all. It’s about the consequences of 50 years of progressive misrule—which on race has proved an equal-opportunity failure.

Baltimore is but the latest liberal-blue city where government has failed to do the one thing it ought—i.e., put the cops on the side of the vulnerable and law-abiding—while pursuing “solutions” that in practice enfeeble families and social institutions and local economies.

These supposed solutions do this by substituting federal transfers for fathers and families. They do it by favoring community organizing and government projects over private investment. And they do it by propping up failing public-school systems that operate as jobs programs for the teachers unions instead of centers of learning.

If our inner-city African-American communities suffer disproportionately from crippling social pathologies that make upward mobility difficult—and they do—it is in large part because they have disproportionately been on the receiving end of this five-decade-long progressive experiment in government beneficence.

How do we know? Because when we look at a slice of white America that was showered with the same Great Society good intentions—Appalachia—we find the same dysfunctions: greater dependency, more single-parent families and the absence of the good, private-sector jobs that only a growing economy can create.

Remember, in the mid-1960s when President Johnson put a face on America’s “war on poverty,” he didn’t do it from an urban ghetto. He did it from the front porch of a shack in eastern Kentucky’s Martin County, where a white family of 10 eked out a subsistence living on an income of $400 a year.

In many ways, rural Martin County and urban Baltimore could not be more different. Martin County is 92% white while Baltimore is two-thirds black. Each has seen important sources of good-paying jobs dry up—Martin County in coal mining, Baltimore in manufacturing. In the last presidential election, Martin Country voted 6 to 1 for Mitt Romney while Baltimore went 9 to 1 for Barack Obama.

Yet the Great Society’s legacy has been depressingly similar. In a remarkable dispatch two years ago, the Lexington Herald-Leader’s John Cheves noted that the war on poverty sent $2.1 billion to Martin County alone (pop. 12,537) through programs including “welfare, food stamps, jobless benefits, disability compensation, school subsidies, affordable housing, worker training, economic development incentives, Head Start for poor children and expanded Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

The result? “The problem facing Appalachia today isn’t Third World poverty,” writes Mr. Cheves. “It’s dependence on government assistance.” Just one example: When Congress imposed work requirements and lifetime caps for welfare during the Clinton administration, claims of disability jumped.

Mr. Cheves quotes a former grade-school principal who says this of Martin County’s children: “Instead of talking about a future of work, or a profession, they talk about getting a check.”

Yes, Washington’s largess has done some good. Even the federal government can’t spend billions of dollars without building a decent road or bridge here or there. But it all came at a high human cost.

To put the war on poverty’s “gains” in perspective, moreover, it is worth comparing the progress in both inner-city Baltimore and rural Martin County over the past half-century with, say, South Korea over the same time. While the Great Society’s billions were creating a culture of dependency, South Korea—with its emphasis on trade and global competition—rose from the ashes of a terrible war to become the world’s 12th-largest economy.

Meanwhile, President Obama says the rioting in Baltimore means “we as a country have to do some soul-searching.” He’s right about that, even though what he means by this is that others need to come around to his view. If the president really wanted to launch some national soul-searching, he would invite, say, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) for a chat about how to get cities such as Baltimore to start generating jobs again.

Because to look at urban black Baltimore and rural white Martin County and conclude that the answer is more cradle-to-grave, “Life of Julia” federal love isn’t soul searching. It’s denial.
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: May 05, 2015, 12:53:19 PM
The words are OK, their sincerity is highly dubious.
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Carly Fiorina on: May 05, 2015, 12:37:37 PM
Good analysis.
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprise! Hillary supports amnesty on: May 05, 2015, 10:33:50 AM
Laura Meckler
May 5, 2015 6:00 a.m. ET

LAS VEGAS—Hillary Clinton, making her first visit to Nevada since she announced her 2016 presidential run, will call for a path to citizenship for some 11 million people in the U.S. illegally, and contrast that position with Republican contenders who stop short of that stance.

In 2013, the Senate passed legislation with some GOP support that offered the chance for citizenship for those who qualified. But that bill died in the Republican-controlled House, and GOP support for the idea has dried up. Mrs. Clinton plans to meet with young people at a Las Vegas high school.

“She will say that the standard for a true solution is nothing less than a full and equal path to citizenship,” said a Clinton aide, previewing her remarks. “She will say that we cannot settle for proposals that provide hardworking people with merely a ’second-class’ status.”

That is a reference principally to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the all-but-declared presidential candidate who once supported a path to citizenship but now is promoting the opportunity for a legal status short of citizenship. Even that is unpopular among many GOP primary voters. Critics of a path to citizenship or other legal status say it would reward people who broke the law.

Many Democrats see Mr. Bush as a strong general-election contender in part because of his potential to appeal to Hispanic voters, who overwhelmingly supported Democrat Barack Obama in his two elections. Mr. Bush has long spoken of immigration in welcoming terms, speaks fluent Spanish and is married to a Latina woman.
Negative views of Hillary Clinton have risen in the past month amid news of controversial fundraising practices by her family's charitable foundation, a new WSJ/NBC News poll shows. How should her supporters interpret the new numbers? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

Mrs. Clinton has supported a path to citizenship at least as far back as 2006, though she has taken more cautious positions on other immigration issues. She at one point opposed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, though an aide recently said that she now supports that policy. Last summer, she upset some immigration advocates when she said that unaccompanied children coming across the border illegally should be sent back to their home countries.

Mrs. Clinton’s appearance on Tuesday is meant to begin laying the groundwork to tell Hispanic voters that Mr. Bush isn’t as supportive of a liberalized immigration policy as Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats are.

“Clinton will talk about her commitment to fixing our broken immigration system by passing comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship, treats everyone with dignity and compassion, upholds the rule of law, protects our border and national security, and brings millions of hardworking people out of the shadows and into the formal economy so they can pay taxes and contribute to our nation’s prosperity,” the aide said.

Mrs. Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for president by a wide margin, will meet with young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Mr. Obama took executive action to protect these people among other undocumented immigrants from deportation. GOP candidates including Mr. Bush say his move overstepped presidential authority and have said they would roll it back.

She will appear at Rancho High School, which has a student body that is about 70% Hispanic, the Clinton campaign said.

Nevada is one of a handful of states with large Hispanic populations that have been closely fought in recent presidential races.

Write to Laura Meckler at
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carly Fiorina on: May 05, 2015, 10:19:06 AM
In the 2016 Presidential thread CF has already been discussed a bit, but with her official candidacy and my having seen her this morning on FOX, I have decided to give her her own thread.

IMHO she will improve the Reps chances by being an effective pit bull against Hillary in a way that the men fear to.

She was asked about her qualifications for foreign affairs this morning and I was surprised at how effective her answer was.  She spoke well of the various national leaders with whom she has interacted (Putin, Netanyahu, many more) and when asked what she would do differently without hesitation she rattled off a list that looks surprisingly close to mine-- another famous lurker on our forum perhaps?  cheesy

1) Arm the Kurds directly;
2) Give King Abullah of Jordan the military supplies that he asks for;
3) Share military intel with Egypt; support Al-Sisi in his brave stance against "the cancerin Islam", support him when he attacks ISIS in Libya, etc.

CF may surprise in how well she performs and in how far she goes.   I would be VERY surprised though if she went all the way.

241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 05, 2015, 09:10:18 AM
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: May 04, 2015, 01:07:14 PM
Our own Objectivist was there!  I spoke briefly with him this morning.  He says he will give a report here when he gets home.
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Doing business in Baltimore on: May 04, 2015, 12:15:59 PM
The supply-chain management company I started in the late 1990s and lead today is in downtown Baltimore. On the night of the worst violence last month, there were more tempting targets than our cement, nondescript building, like the liquor store 150 yards away that was looted. Yet on any given day what takes place in this neighborhood is a slow-motion version of recent events. Graffiti, which anyone with experience in urban policing will affirm is the first sign of trouble, regularly appears on the exterior of our building. From there the range of crimes escalates to burglarizing cars in the parking lot, and breaking and entering our building.

City policies and procedures fail to help employers address these problems—and make them worse. When the building alarm goes off, the police charge us a fee. If the graffiti isn’t removed in a certain amount of time, we are fined. This penalize-first approach is of a piece with Baltimore’s legendary tax and regulatory burden. The real cost of these ill-conceived policies is to the community where we—and other local businesses in similar positions—might be able to hire more of those Baltimoreans who have lost hope of escaping poverty and government dependency.

Maryland still lags most states in its appeal to companies, according to well-documented business-climate comparisons put out by think tanks, financial-services firms, site-selection consultants and financial media. Baltimore fares even worse than other Maryland jurisdictions, having the highest individual income and property taxes at 3.2% and $2.25 for every $100 of assessed property value, respectively. New businesses organized as partnerships or limited-liability corporations are subject, unusually, to the local individual income tax, reducing startup activity.

The bottom line is that our modest 14,000-square-foot building is hit with $50,000 in annual property taxes. And when we refinanced our building loan in 2006, Maryland and Baltimore real-estate taxes drove up the cost of this routine financial transaction by $36,000.

State and city regulations overlap in a number of areas, most notably employment and hiring practices, where litigious employees can game the system and easily find an attorney to represent them in court. Building-permit requirements, sales-tax collection procedures for our multistate clients, workers’ compensation and unemployment trust-fund hearings add to the expensive distractions that impede hiring.

Harder to quantify is the difficulty people face who want to live here. Our employees reduce their tax burden and receive better public services in the suburbs. I live in the city, however, and it is a challenge to stay here. My two children attend a public elementary school where classrooms are filled beyond capacity with 30 or more students. Bathroom stall doors and toilet-seat lids are missing. The heat goes out in the winter and the air-conditioning goes out in hot weather. It’s hard to explain the importance of developing science and math skills to students wearing winter coats in the classroom.

Contrary to President Obama’s suggestion in a news conference following saturated television coverage of the riots, lack of urban “investment” is not the problem. The Maryland state and Baltimore city governments are leveraging funds to float a $1 billion bond issue to rebuild crumbling public schools. This is on top of the $1.2 billion in annual state aid Baltimore received in 2015, more than any other jurisdiction and eclipsing more populous suburban counties. The financial problem Baltimore does face is a declining tax base, the most pronounced in the state. According to the Internal Revenue Service, $125 million in taxable annual income in Baltimore vanished between 2009 and 2010.

Leadership can change this. Maryland last fall elected a new governor, Republican Larry Hogan, who campaigned on improving the state’s business climate and bipartisanship. Baltimore’s mayor since 2010, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, says she is committed to rebuilding the city. Despite some minor jabs at each other in the past few months, both showed an effective working relationship during the crisis of the past few weeks. Their political futures will now be linked as the real work begins to repair Maryland’s largest city.

They will be building on perceptions of the Baltimore area that go far beyond the 24-hour, instant-news cycle. We have corporate success stories to tell the world about, including Under Armour, a global leader in sports apparel, and McCormick, the classic American spice company founded here in 1889. But these companies succeed despite the business climate, not because of it.

The simplest, most direct way to offer hope to discouraged people is to hire them. The Baltimore business community has a simple message to law enforcement and elected officials: “Help us help you.” People making good wages, working at jobs they are proud of don’t destroy themselves or the place where they live. We have the political and business talent to rebuild one of America’s great cities, once we focus on creating the conditions for job growth.

Mr. Steinmetz, a former member of the Maryland Small Business Commission, is the CEO of Baltimore-based Barcoding Inc.
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reagan at Bergen Belsen on: May 04, 2015, 11:58:10 AM
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Emergency room visits still climbing on: May 04, 2015, 11:40:48 AM
U.S. Emergency-Room Visits Keep Climbing
By Stephanie Armour
May 4, 2015 12:01 a.m. ET

Emergency-room visits continued to climb in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, contradicting the law’s supporters who had predicted a decline in traffic as more people gained access to doctors and other health-care providers.

A survey of 2,098 emergency-room doctors conducted in March showed about three-quarters said visits had risen since January 2014. That was a significant uptick from a year earlier, when less than half of doctors surveyed reported an increase. The survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians is scheduled to be published Monday.

Medicaid recipients newly insured under the health law are struggling to get appointments or find doctors who will accept their coverage, and consequently wind up in the ER, ACEP said. Volume might also be increasing due to hospital and emergency-department closures—a long-standing trend.

“There was a grand theory the law would reduce ER visits,” said Dr. Howard Mell, a spokesman for ACEP. “Well, guess what, it hasn’t happened. Visits are going up despite the ACA, and in a lot of cases because of it.”

The health law’s impact on emergency departments has been closely watched because it has significant implications for the public. ER crowding has been linked to longer wait times and higher mortality rates.

More than half of providers listed in Medicaid managed-care plans couldn’t schedule appointments for enrollees, according to a December report by the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. Among providers who could offer appointments, the median wait time was two weeks, but more than a quarter of doctors had wait times of more than a month for an appointment.

Many doctors don’t accept Medicaid patients because the state-federal coverage provides lower reimbursement rates than many private health-insurance plans. The waits for primary and specialty care by participating doctors appear to be leaving some Medicaid patients with the ER as the only option, according to ACEP.

“We’re seeing a huge backlog in the ER because the volume has increased,” said Ryan Stanton, an emergency-room doctor at Baptist Health Lexington in Kentucky. “This year we already have had to board people in the ER because of the sheer volumes,” he said, referring to a practice of keeping patients in the ER until a hospital room becomes available.

Dr. Stanton said ER volume rose about 10% in 2014 from 2013, and was up almost 20% in the first few months of this year.

The ACEP survey also found that ERs are seeing sicker patients: About 90% of the doctors polled said the severity of illness has stayed the same or gotten worse. That might be explained in part by an aging population, newly insured people with multiple maladies, and people delaying care because they have high-deductible insurance plans.

Nicholas Vasquez, a medical director for an emergency department in Mesa, Ariz., said volume rose 5% in a year, representing about 10 more patients a day. The stress from bigger caseloads prompted some nurses to resign, he said. “Physicians are working more shifts—that pushes them a lot,” Dr. Vasquez said. “If they work too much, they get burnt out. For patients, it means longer waits.”

Some states have been trying to curb ER use by Medicaid recipients by requiring higher copayments for visits deemed nonurgent. Critics have denounced that practice as punitive, and warn that it will dissuade low-income patients from seeking care that may be necessary.

A 2013 study by Truven Health Analytics that examined insurance claims for more than 6.5 million ER visits by commercially insured people under age 65 found just 29% of patients required immediate attention. Twenty-four percent didn’t require immediate attention, 41% received care that could have been provided in a primary-care setting, and 6% got care that would have been preventable or avoidable with proper primary care.

More than 40% of emergency physicians said they expect emergency-room visits to increase if the Supreme Court rules that subsidies provided to people who obtain insurance on the federal exchange are invalid. The court is expected to rule by late June.

Write to Stephanie Armour at
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SCOTUS bitch slaps EEOC 9-0 on: May 04, 2015, 11:39:08 AM


    Review & Outlook

Another 9-0 Smackdown
Even the liberal Justices conclude the EEOC abused its authority.
Photo: Getty Images
May 3, 2015 5:34 p.m. ET

Congress in its wisdom often delegates vast powers to the administrative state that stretch to points somewhere beyond the known universe. So congratulations to the Obama Administration’s regulatory cosmonauts for discovering these far-off limits and then managing to exceed even those, earning a unanimous rebuke last week from the Supreme Court.

The 1964 law that created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires this anti-discrimination regulator to use “informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion” to resolve disputes with business. After these private negotiations, the commission can either settle or bring litigation. But 50 years later, the EEOC decided to disobey even this vague instruction, sue first, and then dare the courts to stop it.

In 2011 the EEOC rung up the Illinois-based Mach Mining for alleged hiring bias against female coal workers. The commission claimed that the grand total of two letters it sent to Mach a year apart—the first notifying the company of the allegation, the second announcing a lawsuit—had satisfied its “conciliation” obligation. The EEOC then claimed that its dispute-resolution methods, or lack thereof, were not subject to judicial review.

In other words, the commission tried to transform very broad discretion into infinite discretion by its own decree. The goal was to cow accused employers into surrendering behind closed doors and opening their wallets, without any appeal or oversight.

“But no, Congress has not left everything to the Commission,” Justice Elena Kagan dryly wrote for the 9-0 majority (her emphasis). Absent judicial oversight, “the Commission’s compliance with the law would rest in the Commission’s hands alone. We need not doubt the EEOC’s trustworthiness, or its fidelity to law, to shy away from that result.”

The Court held that the EEOC must demonstrate to judges that it “actually, and not just purportedly, tried to conciliate a discrimination charge.” From now on, an EEOC official must submit a “sworn affidavit” testifying to substantive engagement with an employer that a reasonable human could identify as conciliation, rather than nothing.

This standard is more narrow than the intrusion Mach preferred, which was for the courts to fly-speck conciliation procedures much as management-union labor disputes are monitored for good faith. And the EEOC probably does deserve to be put into bureaucratic receivership for its abuses, at least for the duration of this Administration.

But that is not an altogether convincing reading of the overly broad EEOC statute. One solution is for Congress to write better laws. The other is for the Administration to stay within its legal guardrails before it is again humiliated by every member of the High Court.
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: US changing secret phone tracking standards on: May 04, 2015, 10:36:03 AM

Federal law-enforcement and phone-company officials also have expressed concerns that some local police authorities were abusing a legal shortcut by submitting an inordinate number of requests for cellphone information, according to people familiar with the matter. A Baltimore police official, for example, told a local judge overseeing a murder case last month the department had used the devices at least 4,300 times dating to 2007. The judge ruled the use of the device in that case was permissible.

One of the most effective ways to find a suspect using the technology is to get the last known location of the suspect’s phone—which can be provided by a phone company. Some companies can “ping” a phone in real time to determine its general whereabouts while others can tell investigators where it made its last call or text.

The Journal last year detailed how the U.S. Marshals Service flies planes equipped with the devices from airports around five major U.S. cities, scanning tens of thousands of phones at a time in densely populated areas as it hunts for fugitives. The Justice Department also uses them outside U.S. soil, and a Marshals employee was shot last July in a secret operation with such a device in Mexico, leading some law-enforcement officials to question how Justice Department managers decide to deploy them.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has demanded more details from the Justice Department about their use in response to the articles.

“We know it’s got to come out,” one law-enforcement official said. “At some point, it becomes more harmful to try to keep it secret than to acknowledge it. We just want to acknowledge it carefully and slowly, so we don’t lose what is a very effective tool.”

Officials said they don’t want to reveal so much that it gives criminals clues about how to defeat the devices. Law-enforcement officials also don’t want to reveal information that would give new ammunition to defense lawyers in prosecutions where warrants weren’t used, according to officials involved in the discussions.

And one federal agency, the U.S. Marshals, are fugitive-hunters who rarely testify in court, so they are likely to reveal much less about how they use the technology than their counterparts at the FBI and DEA, these people said.

Law-enforcement officials say they aren’t interested in gathering large amounts of information with the devices and say their purpose is typically finding a single suspect in a sea of floating digital data. Privacy advocates say the methods amount to a digital dragnet—a silent ID check of untold numbers of innocent people who aren’t suspected of anything, or even aware their phones are being checked. The machines can also interrupt service on cellphones being scanned.

The effectiveness of the technology in finding suspects is prompting some local law enforcement to use it frequently.

About a year ago, Baltimore police officials began deluging some phone companies with requests for customer cellphone information, claiming it couldn’t wait for a judge’s order, according to people familiar with the matter. Normally, police need a court order to get that kind of information about a phone customer. But there is an exception for emergency requests. Phone companies’ rules vary, but they generally allow emergency requests to be fulfilled in missing-persons cases or when there is a risk of death or serious injury. Typically, the phone company employee doesn’t ask questions to verify the nature of the emergency.

Local police departments must sign a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI before getting access to the technology—agreeing not to reveal details of how the technology works and to seek guidance from the FBI if questioned in court or elsewhere. As part of that agreement, police agencies acknowledge they may have to drop charges against suspects if prosecuting a suspect risks revealing information about the machines.

In contrast, the FBI doesn’t require or provide legal standards to police on best practices for how to use the devices, according to people familiar with the issue. Officials say that if a police department asks for advice on how they use the devices, the FBI will provide it.

People familiar with the Baltimore matter said police there have scaled back their emergency requests.

But some phone company officials remain concerned the emergency request function is prone to abuse, according to people familiar with the issue. A spokesman for the police department didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest cellphone provider, saw an 8% increase in emergency requests by law enforcement nationwide from the first half to the second half of 2014, according to company data.

The overall number of law-enforcement requests fell by 7% from the first half, according to Verizon. AT&T Inc. data showed a 4% increase in emergency law-enforcement requests along with an increase in nonemergency requests. Emergency requests encompass a range of issues, including trying to track information from dropped 911 calls.

In a federal court filing last year in Atlanta, AT&T broadly discussed the increasing demands that law enforcement is putting on phone companies.

“AT&T receives and responds to an enormous volume of official demands to provide information to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the United States,” lawyers for the company wrote in the filing.

The company has more than 100 full-time employees staffed to meet the volume of requests from law enforcement and civil lawsuits.

Write to Devlin Barrett at
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248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A nuclearized Middle East, armed to the teeth n the throes of a religious frenzy on: May 04, 2015, 10:30:57 AM

Gulf States Want U.S. Assurances and Weapons in Exchange for Supporting Iran Nuclear Deal
Regional leaders seek quid pro quo of fighters, missile batteries, surveillance equipment
Gulf Arab nations are seeking advanced U.S. military hardware, such as the F-35 fighter pictured, in exchange for their support of a nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers with which it is negotiating.
By Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee
May 2, 2015 12:43 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Leading Persian Gulf states want major new weapons systems and security guarantees from the White House in exchange for backing a nuclear agreement with Iran, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

The leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, plan to use a high-stakes meeting with President Barack Obama next week to request additional fighter jets, missile batteries and surveillance equipment.

They also intend to pressure Mr. Obama for new defense agreements between the U.S. and the Gulf nations that would outline terms and scenarios under which Washington would intervene if they are threatened by Iran, according to these officials.

The demands underscore the complicated diplomatic terrain Mr. Obama is navigating as he drives toward a nuclear deal with Iran, one of his top foreign-policy goals. They also demonstrate how a pact aimed at stabilizing the Middle East risks further militarizing an already volatile region.

Gulf leaders have long sought to bolster their military arsenals, but the requests pose problems for U.S. officials who want to demonstrate support for Arab allies, many of whom host American military bases, while also ensuring that Israel maintains a military advantage in the region.

Any moves by Mr. Obama to meet Arab leaders’ requests could face headwinds in Congress and new friction with Israel, given the continuing negotiations on an Iran nuclear deal. “I’m very worried that President Obama will promise every military toy they’ve always wanted and a security agreement short of a treaty, with the understanding they have to be sympathetic to this deal,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). “If I get a hint of that, a whiff of that, then I would do everything I could to block every bullet and every plane.”

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said White House officials have indicated that Mr. Obama was seriously considering Arab leaders’ requests. He said he would be shocked if some of them weren’t granted.

“These countries are in the most vulnerable geographical areas, and I think they have a legitimate concern about Iran,” said Mr. Engel, who has discussed the requests with Arab officials in recent weeks. But, he said, “We have to make sure that Israel’s qualitative military edge is kept.”

Mr. Obama is scheduled to host the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. at the White House on May 13 and the following day at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

The Persian Gulf countries say they need more drones, surveillance equipment and missile-defense systems to combat an Iranian regime they see as committed to becoming the region’s dominant power. The Gulf states also want upgraded fighter jets to contain the Iranian challenge, particularly the advanced F-35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

A senior U.S. official played down chances that the administration would agree to sell advanced systems such as the F-35 fighter to those nations—though the planes will be sold to Israel and Turkey—because of concerns within the administration about altering the military balance in the Middle East.

Sales of such advanced equipment would also likely run into opposition from pro-Israel lawmakers who have the power to block transfers, the official said.

The challenge Mr. Obama faces at Camp David is to assuage growing fears among those Sunni countries that want military superiority over Shiite-dominated Iran, while not undermining longtime U.S. security guarantees to Israel. Current law mandates that the U.S. uphold Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Qatar share Israel’s concern about a nuclear deal with Iran but don’t have diplomatic ties with the Israeli government. A top concern among the Gulf nations and Israel is the expected unshackling of Tehran’s finances under the nuclear agreement that the U.S. and five other world powers are seeking with Iran by a June 30 deadline.

Iran’s neighbors fear such an influx of cash could allow the country to pour even more arms and funds into its military allies and proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

    ‘I’m very worried that President Obama will promise every military toy they’ve always wanted and a security agreement short of a treaty, with the understanding they have to be sympathetic to this deal.’
    —Sen. Lindsey Graham, on the Iran nuclear accord and the coming meeting between Mr. Obama and the Arab leaders.

The outlines of the nuclear agreement, announced last month in Switzerland, call for lifting international sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its atomic work for at least a decade. Under terms being discussed, the U.S. and its allies would also be required eventually to release more than $100 billion of Iran’s oil revenues now frozen in overseas bank accounts.

In anticipation of such a change, the Gulf states have stepped up consultations with the White House on creating new security arrangements, according to U.S. and Arab officials. “We have to be very clear about what the future looks like,” said a senior Arab official involved in discussions with the White House.

Mr. Obama had lunch at the White House last month with U.A.E. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at which they had an extensive discussion about security issues, according to the White House.

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with the Gulf states’ foreign ministers on May 8 in Paris.

Some Arab officials, in recent meetings with Obama administration officials, have raised the possibility of the Gulf Cooperation Council forging a mutual defense treaty with the U.S., similar to Japan’s or South Korea’s, according to people briefed on the talks. This would require Washington to intervene militarily if any member of the group came under attack by Iran or another enemy.

    ‘These countries are in the most-vulnerable geographical areas, and I think they have a legitimate concern about Iran…[But] we have to make sure that Israel’s qualitative military edge is kept.’
    —Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee

The Gulf states tempered this ambition, however, after conceding the Obama administration would face major obstacles in convincing Congress to approve such a treaty, in part because of U.S. lawmakers’ steadfast support for Israel. Instead, the GCC is seeking to establish clear guidelines for when the U.S. would act to check Iranian aggression.

Reaching a common position between the Gulf states and the Obama administration is a difficult task, U.S. and Arab officials say. The Obama administration has at times differed from Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. in gauging the level of Iranian support for political rebellions in countries like Yemen and Bahrain.

More recently, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched airstrikes on insurgents in Yemen, who they argue are receiving arms and funds from Iran—something Tehran denies.

On Tuesday, tensions flared when Iranian warships confronted a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz, prompting the deployment of a U.S. Navy destroyer to the area and stepped-up U.S. measures to protect American commercial vessels.

A White House statement in advance of Mr. Obama’s GCC meeting said the session is designed for the leaders to “discuss ways to enhance their partnership and deepen security cooperation.”

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.A.E. are already some of the largest arms buyers in the world. Last year, Riyadh purchased $80 billion worth of weapons, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks the global arms business. The U.A.E. bought $23 billion.

“The Gulf monarchies need a military edge over Iran,” said an American official engaged in the deliberations between the GCC and U.S.

Some of the Gulf states, in particular Saudi Arabia, have argued they should be allowed to obtain the same nuclear technologies Iran maintains as part of any diplomatic agreement with Washington. “We think there should be nuclear parity between us and Iran,” said an Arab official involved in the discussions.

But the Obama administration is expected to push back against any initiatives that risk further spreading sensitive nuclear technologies across the Mideast.

The U.S. commitment to Israel’s military superiority could undercut hopes for substantive agreements being reached at Camp David.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shares the Arab governments’ belief that Iran poses the greatest security challenge to their region. But there remains fear in Israel that over the long term any sophisticated systems sold to the GCC countries could eventually be turned on Israel, according to Israeli officials.

Congress, as a result, may seek to block some of the arms deals being discussed. “We want to make sure that the one and only democracy in the region is never outgunned,” Mr. Graham said.

Write to Jay Solomon at and Carol E. Lee at
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Knife attack solved by firepower on: May 04, 2015, 10:27:19 AM
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Whoops! The President forgot to mention this , , , on: May 04, 2015, 10:22:22 AM

The city of Baltimore received over $1.8 billion from President Obama's stimulus law, including $467.1 million to invest in education and $26.5 million for crime prevention.

Obama claimed last Tuesday that if the Republican-controlled Congress would implement his policies to make "massive investments in urban communities," they could "make a difference right now" in the city, currently in upheaval following the death of Freddie Gray.

However, a Washington Free Beacon analysis found that the Obama administration and Democratically-controlled Congress did make a "massive" investment into Baltimore, appropriating $1,831,768,487 though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), commonly known as the stimulus.

According to, one of Baltimore's central ZIP codes, 21201, received the most stimulus funding in the city, a total of $837,955,866. The amount included funding for 276 awards, and the website reports that the spending had created 290 jobs in the fourth quarter in 2013.

Of this amount, $467.1 million went to education; $206.1 million to the environment; $24 million to "family"; $16.1 million to infrastructure; $15.2 million to transportation; $11.9 million to housing; and $3.1 million to job training.
IF my math is correct those 290 jobs created cost over $6,310,000 each  cry cry  angry
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